Berghouse on Tuckey

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Sport -

pi­o­neers who headed to Ja­pan to in­ves­ti­gate its car in­dus­try in the 1960s, later also pack­ing his bags to see what was hap­pen­ing in Korea and China.

On the book front, his first was called The Book of Aus­tralian Mo­tor Rac­ing, pub­lished by KG Mur­ray in 1964 when Tuckey was 28. There was drama with his next book, The Ul­ti­mate Ex­cite­ment\ in 1967, when Cus­toms of­fi­cials thought it was a porno­graphic pub­li­ca­tion. But it was a com­pi­la­tion of ex­cel­lent mo­tor­sport pictures by Nigel Snow­don with words by Tuckey.

For a while there was a di­ver­sion from writ­ing in the early 1970s as Tuckey and his wife opened a del­i­catessen and sand­wich shop in Neu­tral Bay, then moved into the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness with the French Hell Driv­ers and a num­ber of other club acts.

But it didn’t last long, and Tuckey forged a long-term al­liance with Ray Berghouse and Tom Floyd that be­came Chevron Pub­lish­ing, the um­brella com­pany for AMC and many other suc­cess­ful busi­ness ven­tures.

Tuckey’s son, Stu­art, says his fa­ther was proud of many of his achieve­ments. There is the in­au­gu­ral Mo­tor­ing Jour­nal­ist of the Year award from 1985, a CAMS mo­tor­sport me­dia award, and the book The Rise and fall of Peter Brock.

“He put an in­cred­i­ble amount of re­search and ef­fort into that book. It was a best seller and went into a sec­ond re­peat,” Stu­art says.

“He was also very proud of the Bathurst books. He al­ways said it’s about the emo­tion, not just the race.”

As for driv­ers, Tuckey was a fan of Stan Jones but his per­sonal favourite was Frank Matich.

“We lived in North Rocks in Syd­ney and they [the Matich fam­ily] lived in Car­ling­ford, and we used to so­cialise all the time. We saw what Frank did, all the way through. From an en­gi­neer­ing and a driv­ing point-of-view, he was one of the great­est apart from Jack Brab­ham,” Stu­art says.

Tuckey had one last big tilt, after time as ed­i­tor at Car Aus­tralia mag­a­zine, when he be­came a ra­dio shock jock in Mel­bourne. He wasn’t quite Der­ryn Hinch, and it only lasted a few years, but his time on 3AW re­flected the same opin­ioned and en­ter­tain­ing style that car­ried him through the decades of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist.

Tuckey and Mar­cie re­tired to Mer­im­bula in 2001 but they even­tu­ally re­turned to Mel­bourne where his health took the first of sev­eral dives in 2010.

“Mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ism, and pos­si­bly the mo­tor­ing in­dus­try, would have been dif­fer­ent with­out Tuckey. He made both bet­ter,” says John Smailes.

“Ev­ery Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist owes Bill Tuckey a debt,” says mo­tor­ing writer Mel Ni­chols. Bill Tuckey was pro­filed in full two years ago, in AMC is­sue #73.

Some peo­ple more than most leave their foot­prints clearly in the sands of time! One such in­di­vid­ual was Bill Tuckey, per­haps Aus­tralia’s most tal­ented mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist with a string of abil­i­ties and pub­lish­ing suc­cesses that would make any as­pir­ing younger writer fear­ful of their own lack of abil­ity. From the early 1960s I had the ex­cep­tional plea­sure of know­ing Bill, work­ing with him and watch­ing his prodi­gious tal­ent first-hand. Like no other, Bill would sit at his type­writer (re­mem­ber those?) in the Syd­ney of­fices at K.G. Mur­ray Pub­lish­ing, insert a page of copy pa­per and start to type – so fast that it seemed the words were spilling out of his mind faster than even his fin­gers could move. But when the clack­ing fi­nally fin­ished, he would hand the stack of para­graph-pages to the sub-ed­i­tor whose job it was to find a mis­take or make a nom­i­nal cor­rec­tion. When it came to Bill work the sube­d­i­tor’s job was dif­fer­ent: as the first per­son to read the story, it was mostly to just read and en­joy it long be­fore the rest of the world had that plea­sure!

If Bill had a fault it was re­ly­ing on his mem­ory a shade too of­ten, some­times with quite in­ter­est­ing po­ten­tial re­sults. Re­search was for oth­ers – de­spite this quirk of personality he was sel­dom wrong.

When Bill, Tom Floyd and I teamed up in the early 1980s to pro­duce books and event pro­grammes on a wide va­ri­ety of mo­tor­ing and mo­tor­sport top­ics it was the most stim­u­lat­ing and en­joy­able pe­riod in pub­lish­ing I can re­mem­ber. Books on the mo­tor­ing in­dus­try, Bathurst (both his­toric and an­nual) and a va­ri­ety of oth­ers gave him a plat­form on which to per­form and those sto­ries are still great read­ing, decades later!

His en­thu­si­asm for rac­ing knew no bounds – as a driver, nav­i­ga­tor, com­men­ta­tor on event PA sys­tems, TV commentary, ra­dio re­port­ing and of course, news­pa­per, mag­a­zine and book au­thor­ing and re­port­ing.

In 1979, again with Tom Floyd, we shared a trip around Aus­tralia cour­tesy of Cas­trol and Marl­boro, fol­low­ing and re­port­ing on the Repco ‘Round Aus­tralia Trial. But the Repco story for us ac­tu­ally started sev­eral weeks ear­lier on the dirt roads around Di­a­mond Val­ley out­side Mel­bourne, the ‘nat­u­ral’ stomp­ing ground of a lo­cal driver, Peter Brock.

With Brock driv­ing one of the trial team (red, white and black) Com­modores on a pho­to­graphic shoot to get some pre-event pub­lic­ity shots, we were ‘in­ter­cepted’ by the lo­cal High­way Pa­trol Sergeant who was chas­ing a bunch of young hooli­gans tear­ing up the back roads and gen­er­ally caus­ing the lo­cals some prob­lems. After recog­nis­ing Brock there fol­lowed a friendly con­ver­sa­tion after which Bill and the sergeant came to the con­clu­sion that there must have been an­other red and white car out there some­where, caus­ing the dust and noise prob­lems – quite co­in­ci­den­tal re­ally! Bill was al­ways good at ‘the chat’ when nec­es­sary!

The fact that he was such a great writer over­shad­owed his role as teacher and men­tor for sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of ‘young turks’ who were lucky enough to find them­selves re­port­ing to Bill as ed­i­tor on Wheels, Sports Car World and nu­mer­ous other mag­a­zine ti­tles. Frankly, Bill ‘taught’ largely by ex­am­ple – when the young guns com­pared their copy with his, the com­par­isons were fre­quently clear to see. ‘Go back and do it again sport – ev­ery­one de­serves a sec­ond chance’!

Bill Tuckey – no longer with us; friend, men­tor, cre­ative ge­nius – his like will not come our way again any­time soon!

Ray Berghouse re­calls col­league & co-con­spir­a­tor Bill Tuckey.

Ray Berghouse is AMC’s found­ing pub­lisher and former busi­ness part­ner of Bill Tuckey.

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